Review Santa Fe 2009
by Aline Smithson

Each June, 100 selected photographers (who have created significant projects and are seeking wider recognition), meet with over 40 esteemed curators, editors, art directors, publishers, gallerists, and agency reps for a weekend conference in Santa Fe. This year, the review took place at The Lodge at Santa Fe, where photographers filled the ballrooms, halls, lobbies, and the bar with portfolio cases and the desire to make more meaningful connections. The Center has been hosing Review Santa Fe since 1994, and this prestigious event has launched numerous careers and provided incredible opportunities for many photographers.

Along with Review Santa Fe, The Center also supports photographers through programs such as the Project Competition, Singular Image Awards, the Santa Fe Prize for Photography, and the Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award. Review Santa Fe is a juried portfolio review and this year's selections were made by a committee comprised of a gallerist, a curator, and an editor. All of the committee members have attended Review Santa Fe as reviewers in the past so they are familiar with the type of work that would benefit from the event. The 2009 committee included Ann Pallesen from Photography Center Northwest, Laura Addison from the New Mexico Museum of Art, and Amber Terranova from PDN.

Photographers arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon and after a introductory meeting hosted by Laura Wzorek, Executive Director of Center, and some words of wisdom by Mary Virginia Swanson, photographers and reviewers were bused to the photo-eye gallery and bookstore to celebrate Debbie Fleming Caffery's exhibition of The Spirit & The Flesh, and to enjoy an outdoor dinner in the photo-eye garden.


The Photo Eye Gallery


Debbie Fleming Caffery's opening of The Spirit & The Flesh


Debbie signing books


photo-eye hosted dinner for the participants


reviewers and participants relax in the photo-eye garden

Friday started two days of reviews, with most participants receiving 9 reviews and opportunities to meet with roving reviewers throughout the event. The reviewers worked tirelessly to provide guidance, opportunities, and feedback on the work--I had meaningful conversations with all of my reviewers and if nothing else, felt that these connections were the beginnings of long-time relationships. As Laura Wzorek, stated in our opening meeting, "Think of the review as a first date, and don't expect to get married right away." Truth be told, I did hear of a few elopements, but for the most part, it looked like the dating scene was alive and well. It is always a treat to spend time with Michael Mazzeo of the Michael Mazzeo Gallery, David Bram of Fraction Magazine, Andy Adams of Flak Photo, Karen Sinsheimer of the Santa Barbara Art Museum, Amber Terranova of PDN, Crista Dix of Wallspace Gallery, Ann Jastrab of Rayko Photo Center, Whitney Johnson of The New Yorker Magazine, Darren Ching and Debora Klomp Ching of the Klompching Gallery and PDN, and then make new, significant connections with Laura Valenti from Newspace Gallery, Elizabeth Avedon, Brian Paul Clamp from Clampart Gallery, Jennifer Schlesinger from Verve Gallery, Anthony Bannon from the George Eastman House, and Mark DiPrima from the Zane Bennett Gallery.


The reviewing rooms


The reviewing rooms


Waiting for reviews

Besides the daily reviews, photographers found time to share work in the hallways or lobby of the hotel, or more often, in the bar. The second night featured a Portfolio Walk, open to the reviewers and the public, providing an opportunity to get a broad overview of the work. When there was a free moment, photographers tried to see the work of their fellow participants and connected with the photographers next to each other.


The wonderful staff at Center, including Laura Wzorek (center)


Hiroyo Kaneko, the 2009 Santa Fe Prize Photography winner


before the crowds


open to the reviewers and to the public


The Portfolio Walk


work by Curtis Wehrfritz


work by Kevin Miyasaki


work by Graham Miller


work by Julie Anand & Damon Sauer


Maggie Blanchard from Twin Palms and special guest


The birthday girl, Mary Virginia Swanson

Occasionally there were free moments to walk the streets of Santa Fe and have some fabulous southwest cuisine (and a margarita or two).


The town Square


Another kind of portfolio walk

The final night culminated at the Center for Contemporary Arts Auction, where many of the participants had donated prints. This 8th annual photography auction raised funds for the Arts Center in Santa Fe.


The live auction

And finally, driving back to the airport in Albuquerque along the Turquoise Trail, with my friend Susan Burnstine, we discovered a wonderful way to reconnect to what's it is really all about: by taking photographs...

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